Human Rights and the Constitution

Political Science 452


Winter 09

M – F 11:00-11:50

Psych 257

Class Overview:


This class studies the Constitutional law of civil rights.  America is a “rights based” society and most of those rights are derived from the Bill of Rights as the Supreme Court interprets them. However, despite the 200 year history of the Bill of Rights, the “right revolution” in America is only about 50 years old. POSC 452 will study the rights explosion of the late 20th Century and examine how the Supreme Court has at times expanded our notions of what constitutes a Constitutional right and at other times narrowed that view.


In this course you will be expected to take 3 quizzes, write one 5-7 page term paper focusing on a hypothetical rights case, and take a final exam (The final exam my be replaced with a mock court presentation). Participation points will be determined by attendance and participation in class discussions.


Case Analysis Sheet (needed for lectures)


Required Text:


Constitutional Interpretation: Vol II Rights of the Individual  (Ducat)

The Rights Revolution (Epp)


Graded Assignments:


Term Paper                  100 pts

3 Quizzes (25 x 3)        75 pts

Final Exam (or MC)     50 pts

Participation                 25 pts


Total                            250 pts.


Weekly Syllabus:


Cases and Topics                                                                Readings


(Jan 6-9)

·         Intro to class                                                                                       Epp Chapter 1 & 2

·         Balancing tests

·         Early Civil Rights case law (pre-incorporation doc)

·         Chs 1 &  2 (The Rights Revolution)


(Jan 12-16) Incorporation of Bill of Rights

  • Chs 3 & 4, 11 (Epp continued)                                                           Epp Chapters 3, 4, 11
  • Barron v. Baltimore
  • Gitlow v. NY
  • Carolene Products Ft. Nt. # 4


(Jan 19-23) Speech

  Clear and Present Danger Tests                                               Ducat Chapter 11

  • Schenck v. US
  • Brandenburg v. Ohio
  • Finer v. NY

  Symbolic Speech or “Speech Plus”

  • Tinker v. Des Moines
  • Texas v. Johnson
  • Buckley v. Valeo

  Hard Cases

  • Abortion Clinics (Madison v. Women’s Health)
  • Hate Speech ( RAV v. St Paul)


Quiz # 1


() Press (3 days)

  Prior Restraint/Access                                                             Ducat Chapter 12

  • Near v. Minn
  • NY Times v. US
  • Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier
  • Houchins v. KQED


  • NY Times v. Sullivan
  • Hustler Magazine v. Falwell (The People v. Larry Flint)


  • Roth v. US
  • Miller v. California


Assign Paper


() Religion (4 days)

  The Establishment Clause                                                        Ducat Chapter 13

  • Everson v. Brd of Ed
  • Engle v. Vitale
  • Lee v. Weisman
  • Lemon v. Kurtzman
  • Zelman v. Simmons-Harris

  The Free Exercise Clause

  • Cantwell v. Conn
  • Wisconsin v Yoder
  • Employment Div of Oregon v. Smith (What is Neutral?)

() Privacy

  • Griswold v. Conn                                                                                 Ducat Chapter10
  • Loving v. Virginia
  • Roe v. Wade
  • Bowers v. Hardwick and Lawrence v Texas
  • Washington v. Glucksberg and Vaco v. Quill

Quiz # 2


() Equal Protection (7 days)

State Action                                                                             Ducat Chapter 14

  • The Civil Rights Cases
  • Shelly v. Kramer (Housing covenant case)
  • Palmer v. Thompson (Swimming pool case)


  • Plessy v Ferguson
  • Brown v Board of Ed (I)
  • Brown v Board of Ed (II)

Sex (Suspect Class)

  • Reed v Reed
  • Frontiero v Richardson
  • US v. Virginia (VMI case)
  • Romer v. Evens

Affirmative Action (Strict Scrutiny)

  • Regents v. Bakke
  • City of Richmond v. Croson                                                               OYEZ Oral Arguments for Bollinger
  • Adarand v. Pena
  • Bollinger v Michigan (both)

() Due Process (7 days)                                                Ducat Chapters 8 & 9

  4th Amendment (Search and Seizure; Exclusionary Rule)          

  • Olmstead v. US
  • Mapp v. US
  • US v. Leon
  • Kyllo v. US (Thermal Heat Imaging)                                                 Patriot Act Video
  • “Exception Cases” Plain sight and touch, heated pursuit, etc.

  5th Amendment (Self-Incrimination and Double Jeopardy)

  • Miranda v. Arizona
  • Escobedo v. Illinois
  • Megan’s Law Cases
  • Immunity Cases
  • Palko v. Conn (Double Jep)

  6th Amendment (Right to Counsel)

  • Powell v. Alabama
  • Betts v Brady
  • Gideon v Waneright
  • Sheperd v. Maxwell

  8th Amendment (Death Penalty)

  • Furman v. Georgia


Quiz # 3


() Political Participation (4 days)

  Reapportionment cases                                                            No Reading

  • Colgrove v. Green
  • Baker v. Carr
  • Reynolds v. Simms
  • Wesburry v. Sanders
  • Reno v. Shaw

  Association cases

  • Boy Scouts v. Dale
  • Democratic Party v. California
  • PGA v. Casey

  Bush v. Gore


Paper Due TBA


(June 1)Eminent Domain/Second Amendment (3 days)

  Takings Clause                                                                        This section of the syllabus may be replaced by Mock Courts

  Right to Bear Arms

  • US v. Miller
  • Individual or Militia Right?


Final Exam [Thurs, March 19th at 8:00am]